How to Network Effectively – with Stoyan Yankov, Co-Founder of Samodiva Masterminds
Stoyan Yankov is a co-founder and managing director of Samodiva Masterminds.
He’s also a speaker, productivity consultant and entrepreneur. Stoyan is one of these so-called “born networkers”. He has been setting up mastermind groups for years now. Today we are interviewing Stoyan on the power of effective networking and building a great network of contacts.
– Hi Stoyan, You are one of these people that are everybody knows. How can one build a great network of contacts?
– There’s no secret formula in building and sustaining a solid network. But there have been a number of things that worked for me in that regard. And it starts with the mindset. A lot of people are afraid to reach out, to make an introduction and to take the first step. It feels uncomfortable and you can come up with all kind of excuses why not to do it. But if you know what you are after, you introduce yourself politely and ask for what you want – you would be surprised how far you can go.
– What are some of the biggest mistakes one does with respect to networking?
First of all – being too passive. Say that you go to a networking event. Do you sit at the corner and wait for someone to come talk to you? Or do you go and talk to the right people. Or have you done your homework about who’s coming – and you go, meet these people and try to figure out how to create value for them? And I get it – there’s a lot of people, for whom it doesn’t come natural. But as everything else – one can learn to become an effective networker.
Secondly – people talk too much about themselves before they have created any value. The best networkers are playing the long-term game. They are curious, they ask good questions and figure out what the others need and want and really try to help them.
It’s about building relationship. But you should give first.
– You mentioned – creating value for your network. What do you mean by that?
There’s many ways you can create value for someone. In a nutshell it’s about helping out.
In order to help someone – you need to know what they want. A simple way to do that is – every time you get introduced to someone ask them: “What do you need help with?”.
Write a little note and follow up on that. Maybe they need an introduction to someone. Or an advice. Or anything. Effective networkers follow up within 24 hours and create value up front. It’s important you have no expectations about reciprocity or anything in that regard.
You are helping out, because it’s the right thing. Do not wait for people to give it back to you.
Let karma do its job. Help out. Connect people. Create value. Good will come back to you in one or other way.
- How should one build a good network if they have just moved to a new city?
What would be your top 3 advices?
Moving to a new city can be a stressful event. You have to get used to the environment, the culture. Especially if you haven’t studied there, your network might be limited to your co-workers for example. Here’s a few things you can do to start building up your network right away, (even if you haven’t moved to another city.)
1. Join a business network or some kind of club with a shared interest
That one has worked out for me very well. What industry are you in? Research and find the places and events connected to your area. Find the best business networks and become a member. If you are a freelancer of work remotely – perhaps a good idea is to join a co-working community, and surround yourself with like-minded individuals.
2. Become pro-active and invite people for coffee
Seriously – it’s not that bad as it sounds to reach out to strangers. Some of my best contacts ever have happen, after I reached out and asked people for coffee and introduction. Who are the people you want to meet? Who are the ones you want to be around. You can literally find anyone on LinkedIn or anywhere online.
Usually if you are nice and respect people’s time – you can go very far.
I’ve became friends with Global executives, Academy Award Winners, and all kinds of cool people, by being curious and taking the first step.
3. Start or Join a mastermind group.
The absolute game changer for me! I’ve heard about that concept several years ago, and have been setting up and running mastermind groups since 2013. The basic premise is – it’s a small group of people with shared interests who are committed to help each other grow. They meet on a regular basis, share their challenges and successes and lift one another to higher standards in business and life. When we share our resources in terms of knowledge, creativity, networks of contacts – we can achieve a lot more. In many ways – that’s why we created Samodiva Mastermind Retreat. It’s the ultimate mastermind experience. And it has already helped each of us grow in personal and professional terms.
– Finally what would you say to people who are move introverted and shy? How should they approach networking?
I would say – start with setting small goals and don’t be afraid to reach out. Networking is a skill. It can be learned. Even if you are a little shy and introverted. I know a lot of people who are natural introverts, but are brilliant and pro-active networkers.
What can you do on a weekly basis that will set you out of your comfort zone (but not too much)? Can you reach out 1 person for coffee? Or go to an additional networking event and introduce yourself to 3 people this week? Consistency makes wonders! The power of the compound effect. Remember there’s this other person on the other side, that probably also wants to meet someone cool like you, but is afraid to make the first step.
- Thank you Stoyan for sharing this advice with us.
- If you are curious about what Samodiva Mastermind Retreat is – check out our webpage, and hopefully one day we will get a chance to meet you alive.